PHOTO: The man likely saved himself $570,000 by not paying the mortgage. 

A New York man who only ever made one mortgage payment has deftly used the courts to stay in the house for 23 years – for free, according to legal papers.

Guramrit Hanspal, 52, has filed four lawsuits and claimed bankruptcy seven times to avoid being booted from the 193sq m East Meadow home he “bought” for $US290,000 ($A375,000) in 1998.

So far, it’s worked: two different banks and a real estate company have owned the three-bedroom, 2.5-bath home since Mr Hanspal was foreclosed upon in 2000. But Mr Hanspal remains.

Mr Hanspal’s not the only occupant of the home leveraging the US Bankruptcy Code’s “automatic stay” rules, which give debtors a temporary reprieve from all collection efforts, harassment, and foreclosures.

At least three other people listing the home as their address have also filed for bankruptcy in Brooklyn Federal Court, winning the “automatic stay,” only to have the claims eventually dismissed, court records show.

“It’s really a group of people that are more than willing to use the courts and abuse the courts to whatever extent they need to extend their illegal occupancy,” said lawyer Jordan Katz, who represents current property owner Diamond Ridge Partners.

Mr Hanspal’s history of litigation “is incredibly long and sordid,” said Mr Katz, who added that while he’s seen occupants staying in foreclosed homes before, “nothing even approaches the length of this one”.

“He’s not legally occupying that property,” Mr Katz said. “It’s an outrage.”